Although grieving is not a ‘job’, I’m reminded today of what my mother used to say about parenting. She would often remark that the hardest job you’ll ever have is to raise a child – and they don’t come with a manual. I’m reminded of this because, in the midst of my grief, I feel helpless. And in a lot of ways it’s similar to becoming a parent.
In my case, it wasn’t a surprise what was coming. I knew it would happen, just like I had 9 months to get used to becoming a parent. However knowing a newborn will wake multiple times a night doesn’t make getting out of bed any easier. Similarly, knowing your mother will likely die soon doesn’t make it easier to get up in the morning.
You have no idea how you’re going to process it. How many times has a new mum listed all the things they said they wouldn’t do when THEY became a mum only to find being ‘in it’ is so different? Likewise, knowing the stages of grief doesn’t mean you know HOW you’re going to travel through them, in what order, for how long and which one you’ll keep revisiting.
Each one is different. Having a second or third child is much different to the first. I remember cherishing every moment with my baby when it dawned on me this would likely be the only time in my life I would have a baby and no other child to care for. Similarly, although I’ve suffered through grief in the past – with people very very dear to me – this time is completely different. I remember the moment when I realised that mum wasn’t going to recover. It was the first time I realised I would live the rest of my life without my mum.
Having a child often ignites a deep feeling of respect and gratitude for your parents. You start to realise what they went through raising you. You understand the deep, loving bond that you can only have with a child. You are constantly asking your mum questions about how to raise this child… Losing your mum makes you appreciate having someone who will answer those questions without judgement and with understanding, knowing and love. And you realise, just too vividly, that the loving bond that you can only have with a child goes both ways.
My kinesiologist once pulled me from deeply grieving a loved one by suggesting that instead of dwelling on the loss of someone special, I could let them live on through my son and through my life. Remembering the good times, teaching my child to grow with the qualities I loved about my dearly departed. Although I don’t quite think I’m there yet, it is definitely nice to remember that I did once see the light of day amidst grief. I know I will this time. Mum would have thought so too.